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Free coffee in Glen Innes for RUOK Day

A free coffee and a reminder to look out for one another greeted customers who stopped by Glen Innes store The Coffee Incident for their daily brew on Thursday morning.

An RUOK Day initiative, local organisation HealthWISE shouted the morning rush in coffee shops throughout the region in an effort to reach out to both customers and small businesses struggling with the pandemic.

"With the additional pressures COVID 19 has placed on communities, families and individuals; looking out for one another is more important than ever," HealthWISE mental health team leader Tanya Hague said.

"There are many additional challenges with isolation, businesses unable to open, and many people working from home with additional responsibilities of home schooling."

Along with the free coffee, customers were offered resources on how to start a conversation on mental health with friends and family, and information about services that can help.

Tanya said RUOK Day was about taking action and engaging in meaningful conversations by asking colleagues, friends or family the simple question: 'Are you OK?'.

"Education and medication are very important in managing mental health and suicide, but ultimately it is all about human connection. We need to invest in humanity with our time, empathy and understanding," HealthWISE lived experience worker Donna Boughton added.

She said you don't need to be a doctor or counsellor to help someone dealing with emotional pain or feelings of hopelessness.

"Deep listening without trying to fix the other person is very powerful and goes a long way towards helping someone who is considering taking their life."

Having the courage to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide can be vital in helping them find a way forward, she explained.

"You will either feel silly for five minutes because the person of concern was just having a bad day, or you will feel pretty good that you just may have saved a life! Remember to seek extra support, and if the person has a plan, get them to the hospital."

HealthWISE has long been dedicated to improving health in the community and offers a range of services across the region, including mental health clinicians, lived experience, Aboriginal outreach, drought and bushfire relief.